HOOP DREAMS: WHY SPORTS IS THE TICKET FOR BLACK MALES

Image result for hoop dreams

“A gone make it!”

“With the number one pick, of the NBA/NFL draft, the ________ select _______ of the University of ________.” These are the words young boys dream of hearing as we prepare to walk that stage, receiving that hat from the commissioner. Then soon after, celebrating with family as we bask in the glory of making to the league. Our dreams have come true and we can start our career. Now these are the experiences the very few will get a chance to see. As for the rest, it is just a dream which will never come true. But is that really the end. I mean with so many young boys dreaming and only a limited amount of space, only a chosen few will get a chance to even get drafted. Even fewer will play and fewer will have lengthy careers.

But why, why are so many Black males wrapped up in the idea that sports is the way out of poverty. There use to be a lyric in hip hop artist Notorious B.I.G. rhymes, “You either slangin rocks or got a killer jump shot.” Could it be that we aspire to play ball because so many Black men are in the league that we see. Black men are in other career fields, but these are the public figures we see. And we only want to be the men we see and seek to become who we see as making big in their careers. There are Black doctors, lawyers, engineers, executives, but we want to be the ball player. But could it all be about seeing these men. What about income?

Income has caught the attention of so many Black boys because what other career is this lucrative this young. Name any other profession where a 19 to 22 year old could become an overnight millionaire. Especially a young Black man from an inner city neighborhood. The only guys that age with a lot of money are the drug dealers. It’s one of the reasons we purchase the items we do once we get money, almost as a homage to these guys. We also think that money will fix so many of our problems that we try to escape from when we were poor. But why is sports so shoved down the throats of Black boys. Even with knowing the majority won’t go pro.

One of the reasons is that winning high school games makes the school and coach look good. So Black males have dreams pumped into their heads about being the next Jordan or Kobe or Lebron. Yet no one is telling Black boys to focus on more academics. In today’s society the idea of a college degree is thrown our way. But you don’t need basketball/football to go to college. So academics take a backseat to sports. And what happens, so many Black boys read at levels that kids half their age are reading. Which leads to so many Black males majoring in communications once we get to college. It’s one the easiest, yet one the most vague degrees in school.

In the end, we are pushed to play sports because no one expects you to do anything else. Young White males are not pumped up with sports on a daily basis. Plus, we are also inundated with constant images of successful White men in other career fields. As a matter of fact, the entire Forbes rich list are comprised with majority White males. To White guys, sports is fun, as a career objective, there are fewer. Young Black boys should be exposed to more as children to know more is out there. That’s why Barack Obama played such a pivotal role in the image of Black males. Now more than ever politics is an attractive career path for Black males. An environment which will effect Black males more than any athlete can effect change.

Change We Can (Can’t) Believe In

“We had change, but was it good.”

It has already been eight years since Barack H. Obama first took office as the 44th President of the United States of America. I can still remember hearing his slogan chanted as an undergraduate student, “Yes we can.” “Change we can believe in.” Now I ask myself what has changed in America? Let’s look a few areas of interest: economics, social, healthcare, and educational.

The economy has been the biggest topic of discussion since he has taken office. From my stand point I don’t feel any different with him in the White House than had it have been anyone else. Maybe because I am not that fond of a lot of politicians from the start. Look at the job market, the president says jobs have been created, as matter of fact he said over 500,000 the last time he spoke. But I ask myself, what job exactly? Are these 40 hour per week, full medical & dental, 4 weeks paid vacation, as well as maternity leave. My best guess it no, they are not. A lot of those jobs are low wage, 10 – 20 hours, no medical or dental, and no vacation time or maternity leave.

Even with the federal minimum wage being raised, it still doesn’t make a difference because the hours are being cut. So now people are making less money getting a higher wage. For example, if you made $7.00 per hour for 40 hours, you were full time. This meant making $280 per week. But now people are making $8.00 per hour and getting 20 – 30 hours making $160 to $240 per week. They make more money and are losing $40 per week. Doesn’t sound like much to someone in the middle or upper. But when you’re poor, an extra $40 per week ($160 per month) goes a long way. Depending on where you live in the country, that’s two utilities or even a month’s groceries for a family.

Another area where change was promised was socially. America in Obama’s second term has seen a spike in the racial relationship. And I’m not talking race as it pertains to the human species. I’m talking about socially. Socially, the relationship between Predominantly White law enforcement officers and African American males in predominantly Black communities. This is a relationship that spans nearly 400 years in America since the first Black people were brought from Africa as indentured servants. Since then Black and White has been a hot topic. But what is Black and White really?

Sammy Sosa is Black and Adriana Lima is White by American standards. Why because of their skin color. We don’t call it out because they are public figures, but unknown and walking the streets of America, they fall under the Black or White category. Is that the change Barack was talking, but wait a minute that’s not change, that’s business as usual. Then what change, you mean how the race for president in 2016 has brought out as the people flying their Confederate flags in the south. A flag that most have felt was a symbol of oppression in America. If change has taken place, how does this still exist.

What other social change, like gays given the ability to marry in America. That was passed, but yet there is still push back from people not adhering to the law. One woman, Kentucky clerk, Kim Davis refused to even issue a marriage license to a gay couple. She stated it was against what she described as, “God’s definition of marriage.” Further stating, “It would be against her religious freedom.” How is this all taking place a this new America. My knowledge tells me it’s always happened, we just pay attention more. Because the issue of social relationships has now gone into the Hispanic and Islamic community.

But does that mean the same goes for another issue in America which is healthcare. Healthcare as well has caused a stir since the passing of Barack Obama’s Affordable Healthcare plan. A plan that would allow for all American’s the right, not the privilege to be covered in case of emergency and in need of hospital treatment. Sounds good right, I mean who wouldn’t want to live in a country where everyone has healthcare coverage. This is the problem; number one you’re forced to have it. If not, at the end of the year, you’re penalized on your taxes. Hard to stomach when Obama stated it would be an, “OPTION.”

Is it really an option if I make you do something. For instance, I have a slice of cheese cake and slice of pound cake. You have the option to choose, but soon as you take the cheese cake I punch you in the face. You gave me a choice, but I felt it was the wrong one. Then tell me I don’t have a choice, instead of punching me. The other problem with the healthcare plan is that small businesses laid-off workers and hours have even been cut at companies for employees. Why? Well it has to do with cutting into profits, and the business not being able to sustain. You can’t hire people if the monetary cost are running through the roof. Some people have to get cut and others employed can’t get hired. And even if you do get hired, you’re forced to pay your own insurance. Tough, when you’re getting 10 – 20 hours on the job.

So where is the change; how about education. Every year students are graduating in mass from institutions across the country. Then, once they walk across the stage, receive their diploma, and the celebration is over, now what? And that question leaves so many young people baffled at what direction to in; what does my future look like. In today’s society so many young men and women are forced to take on other outside jobs. Meaning if you work in an office building Monday through Friday, then maybe pickup more hours freelancing in the evenings and weekends. Why? Well because the new full time is 35 hours, so a lot of 20’s coming from school are only getting 20 – 30 hours on the job.

20 – 30 hours! Who can live off of that in this country. Especially if you are in a major metropolitan city. Not to mention student loan debt that must be repaid after that 6 month grave period. So a lot of people go directly into graduate school. There you go, pile on more debt, to an already crisis situation. But graduate school is an even shorter timeframe than undergrad. So your debt is even more, no job, the prospects you do have pay low wages, and on top of that in your mid to late 20’s still living with mom and dad.

That is just the White males and females, the landscape is even more bleak for minorities coming from school. What are young people left to do? They have to go into their own ventures to make ends meet. Becoming an entrepreneur is now more than ever a necessity than a leap of faith in the past. Because while big business and government fight it out, the people suffer. With all that has been said, one again, what has changed. Seems to me like business as usual. The only difference is that we see things more now than in the past. The internet, cell phone footage, and sharing via social media has made it difficult to hide things from the populace. In the end if this is change, then we need to change the change, because we still have a long way to go if it is change.

Oops Mom and Dad, Sorry To Disappoint

Graduate from high school, go to college, spend four years trying to figure out what to do. Leave college get a job while working on your Masters Degree. Attain your degree, try to get a better job afterward. Settle into a job, wake up early in the A.M., get to work by 9:00 A.M. Work until your lunch break at 12:00 P.M. Come back form your lunch break, work until 5:00 P.M., then come home. Cook dinner, go to sleep; do this for five days per week. Wake up on Saturday and lounge around, or do shopping. On Sunday, go to church, leave service and go out to eat. Come home and rest until it’s time for you to go to sleep. You do this from your mid/late 20’s until you retire at age 65 years of age. Once you retire spend your days sitting in a rocking chair and then you die. You are expected to live like this and if you don’t, you’re considered irresponsible. But to me, I felt this was not how I want to live my life. I am embarking on my journey of prosperity as well as happiness. I wonder how may people are happy living their day-to-day existence.

My life is something different and sets me aside from the norm. I did all the things up until the point except after undergraduate school, putting myself on a collision course with another path. I graduated high school, went off to undergraduate school, but veered off course once I got to graduate school. Entering graduate school pursuing my MBA, I was still up in the air regarding my future. Finishing my first screenplay during this time period while going on job interviews made me realize my true passion. Filmmaking made me understand this is where I belong as well as writing my books. It gave me the ability to do something that I could not do on a daily job; and that was being honest and open. When you work a day, there is so much censorship that you don’t worry about being an independent writer. You are expected to put on a suit and tie, and conform to the control of a supervisor; who by the way has the freedom you are restricted form having. That freedom they have and control over your life made me realize the construct I would have to work within. It has nothing to do with real structure, but more about a few individuals having a position of control over the majority. And if you even question something you disagree with, you are reprimanded for insubordination for the questioning.

So what do parents have to do with all of this; simple, following your passion is highly discouraged. Parents want their children to go to school, get out, shut up, follow the status quo, get your pay check, and go home. But when you are unhappy regarding your situation, they are puzzled. Everyone expects you to fall in line, but can’t figure out why it’s so depressing. Unlike most, I have decided to follow my passion: filmmaking, writing novels, and photography. You would think people who be behind you, but you receive more discouragement than encouragement. What’s shocking is that your are not hanging around doing nothing, yet you are looked at as some young person wasting your life. Stepping out and creating a career rather than taking a job is seen as some sort of let down. You have not chosen the road most take and because of that you have failed; failed your parents, your family, your friends, and society. How come no one sees your vision? Why is it seen as a waste of life? Because people assume they can’t do it so you can’t, or the difficulty is such that most fail and few succeed.

The reason for the most part that parents are resistant is because taking a job is an easier way out. There is not only a plan, but a process from school to work to retirement. “Play life safe,” they tell you. The only problem with this, is that playing life safe won’t lead to satisfaction in life nor will it lead to higher returns in your career. It’s tough coming from parents because that is what they are suppose to do. It’s their job to be that overbearing because they have been through the greater portion of life. They know what comes with entering the world and what will be expected of you. What’s funny about all of this I have explained, is that in the end, they respect you more when you carve out your future. It’s confusing because not listening to your parents is a sign of disobedience, yet you have to veer off from their guidance sometimes. Why, well they are not living this life, you are. You have to do what makes you happy because your happiness is key to your stability both financially and economically. Trust me, when do succeed at what it is you’re pursuing, they will respect you more. They will know that what you have talked up is not just some pipe dream, but yet a future you have so diligently worked at. And for that they will say I am proud of you.